|Mass.Gov Home Page||State Agencies||State A-Z Topic List|
30 Years of Coastal Zone Management: 30 Environmental Tips You Can Use
By Arden Miller, CZM
Printer-friendly PDF (393 KB)
Recognizing how vital coastal and marine resources are, and how many people want a piece of them, the U.S. Congress passed the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) in 1972 to help balance human activities (development of wharves, dredging harbors, building waterfront property) with ecological conservation (there are sea creatures, like the prehistoric horseshoe crab, that have been making these areas home since way before there was a Congress to pass laws to protect them). In 1978, Massachusetts became the first state along the eastern seaboard to receive approval from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for its coastal zone management plan. Since that time, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) has helped find the balance on issues—from monitoring the spread of invasive species like rock snot to making sure that new developments along Boston’s Harbor Walk have public space—that affect coastal Massachusetts.
But protecting the coast is not done by CZM alone. As one presidential hopeful once said, it takes a village. Or, in the case of Massachusetts, a mix of government agencies, coastal and inland residents, scientist, and volunteers. There are things everyone can do to get involved: COASTSWEEP, the annual beach clean up organized by CZM (see COASTSWEEP: 20+ Years of Clean Beaches and www.coastsweep.umb.edu) is an easy and fun one. There are numerous volunteer groups looking for intrepid observers of all ages to monitor species, wetlands, and more. And there are many little things most everyone can do every day that will help lessen debris, protect marine life, and make our water and air cleaner.
EAT YOUR VEGGIES! - If the average person replaces meat meals with vegetables, soy products, and pasta every other day for a year, an estimated 487 pounds of CO2 would be saved annually (source: www.eartheasy.com). So have a peanut butter (or soy butter) and jelly sandwich instead of a turkey club. For each day you pack a PB&J for lunch, you save around 2.5 lbs of CO2.
PAINT IT LOW-VOC - If you have a paint project, purchase zero or low-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints. Your air will be cleaner (according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air is one of the top five hazards to human health and paints are among the leading culprits), and the environment will be less volatile.
KILL INSECTS WITH KINDNESS - Or at least keep them away with natural deterrents. A list of non-chemical, natural insect repelants is available at: www.eartheasy.com/live_natpest_control.htm.
GO NATIVE - If you have a yard or outdoor space, buy plants that are native to Massachusetts. They will be able to withstand temperature shifts typical of New England, and require no-to-little watering (the average sprinkler uses five gallons of water/minute, which adds up fast!). For a list of native plants, see: www.abnativeplants.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/home.home/index.htm.
IT’S THE (REALLY) LITTLE THINGS - No one wants lint on their clothing. But if your dryer’s air ducts are clogged, you’ll have lint and your dryer (Energy Star or not) will be using more energy than it has to. Remove the ducting from the rear of the dryer and take it outside. Spray the inside with a pressure washer or suck out the gunk with a wet/dry vacuum. When it’s dry, reconnect to dryer. Doing this a couple times a year saves you money—on average $3/month—and means about 200 pounds of carbon emissions won’t be released into the atmosphere.
GIVE YOUR CLOTHES THE COLD SHOULDER (Er, cold cycle) - With the exception of cloth diapers and really, really greasy stuff, cold water will get your clothing just as clean as warm or hot, and will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint. (During an average wash cycle, 80-90 percent of the electricity used goes toward the water heater.)
BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP, BUT EVERYONE NEEDS TOOTHPASTE! - Do you know that a lot of beauty products (even things like unscented lotion) contain toxic chemicals? The good news is that you can replace these with natural ones. This non-profit environmental consumer product site can tell you what dangerous things lurk in your lotions, shampoos, lipsticks, and mouthwash, and rates products’ risk so you can choose the toxic-free alternative in the future. To find your medicine cabinet’s risk, go to www.cosmeticsdatabase.com.
E-VITE IT’S THE NEW INVITE - If you are having a party, or hosting a social event, consider sending invitations via email, or using evite (www.evite.com)—it’s free and easy to use, and saves postage and paper. For more formal events that need that old-fashioned touch—weddings, baht mitzvahs, and coming out parties—use recycled paper made from post-consumer waste for your invitations. Better yet, use recycled paper made with plant seeds; your guests can plant the invite (it’s biodegradable!) and remember you forever (or at least as long as the plants live on).
BABY SWAPPING - Not the actual babies, but their clothing. Since they grow so fast, and Juicy Couture can be expensive, look for baby items at thrift stores and online clothing swap sites. On many swap sites, your baby can get used “new” clothes for the cost of shipping (and you can off load your child’s outgrown clothing at the same time).
TOAST YOUR INNER ENVIRONMENTALIST WITH ORGANIC WINE - What makes a wine organic? The vineyards that produce the grapes use owls, bats, hawks, ladybugs, and songbirds instead of insecticides to control pests—this makes for a naturally tasty wine, and means that chemical by-products are not ending up in our water bodies. There are a number of U.S. vineyards employing these natural techniques, and an increasing number of restaurants and stores are carrying organic brands. If your favorite wine store or restaurant does not, ask them to. Who knows—someday they could hold an organic wine tasting in your honor.
WELL, I’M NOT SURE ABOUT THE GROOM, BUT I DO LOVE THE GREEN - If you are getting married, or know someone who is, this link has a lot of great eco-friendly wedding ideas: www.care2com/greenliving/green-weddings-say-i-do-to-green.html. And for the super-green bride-to-be, look online for wedding dresses made from organic silk, or go vintage.
QUE ES FREEGAN?? - You don’t have to embrace every aspect of recycling to appreciate getting free stuff. Give your unwanted stuff a new home, and look for things you need by joining the Freecycle Network. Membership is free, and there are more than 4,000 groups across the globe. It’s all about keeping that StairMaster you never use out of a landfill...www.freecycle.com.
‘CUZ THEY DON’T ALWAYS KEEP GOING AND GOING AND... There are many sites that accept your rechargeable batteries (from power tools, laptops, cameras, and more) and old cell phones, keeping them out of the waste stream. I found 21 locations in Boston alone. To see if there are sites in your area, go to www.rbrc.org/call2recycle.
SOCK IT TO ME! - If you have a boat, you can decrease the chances of oil leaking into the oceans by always using a bilge sock. Socks are inexpensive—in some communities, they are even free—and easy to use. For a how-to tutorial, see www.mass.gov/czm/marinas/bilge-socks.htm.
CROCK POTS ARE HOT - Unlike orange shag carpet, not everything from the 1970s is tragic. Slow cooking meats or making stews and soups in crock pots is a far more efficient use of energy than stove top simmering. Not to mention, there’s just one pot to clean up after the meal is done—a nice bonus for your water bill and the person who has to do the dishes. And, thanks to the online crock pot devotees of the world, you are mere mouse clicks away from an astounding variety of modern day recipes.
ONE WORD FOR YOU SON: PLASTICS - Yes, plastics were the wave of the future when Dustin Hoffman’s character in The Graduate was given this piece of advice. And they still have their place in our lives, but all those little packing peanuts? If you don’t want yours to become landfill, there are 23 places in Massachusetts where you can drop your peanuts off for re-use. To find out where, go to: www.loosefillpackaging.com.
TRAVEL GREENER - When you go on a trip, look for an eco-friendly hotel. If you cannot find one, or have a preferred hotel that you don’t want to give up, consider keeping the same bed linens and towels for the duration of your stay. If you are flying, buy your tickets online and use e-tickets (i.e., you check in electronically with your credit card) instead of the traditional paper tickets. You’ll cut down on paper use, and if the e-ticket is lost, it’s easier and cheaper to replace.
LOVE THE LOW FLOW - When it’s time to replace your toilet, go low flow. Traditional toilets use 3.5 gallons/flush, whereas a low-flow uses 1.6 gallons. The math on this one is easy; you are using less than 1/2 of what you used to use by going low flow. (The average person uses 27,300 gallons of water flushing their toilet/year...)
GOT STEEL? - Steel, found in many appliances and cars, is North America’s most recycled material. To find out if there is a steel recycling receiver near you, see www.recycle-steel.org/ or call 1-800-876-7274 x201.
DRY CLEAN GREEN - For years, drycleaners have used petroleum based cleaning agents. The by-products can cause air pollution and pollute the soil and water. And do you really want petroleum-based residue next to your skin? A relatively new dry-cleaning process that uses nontoxic silicone is being used at some Massachusetts drycleaners. To find one: http://www.nodryclean.com/.
THE FABRIC OF OUR LIVES - When buying new clothing and sheets, look for organic cotton. Non-organic cotton is grown and processed with toxic chemicals. In places like Uzbekistan (the second-largest cotton exporter in the world), high rates of TB and cancer and ecological devastation from toxic chemical dust are directly linked to cotton production.
THE POWER OF THE GREEN - Money talks, so send the message that you are in favor of renewable energy sources by telling your power company you want to switch to green power. In most cases, the additional cost each billing cycle is $5. Sending the message that you are willing to invest in renewable energy? Priceless.
COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHTS, NOT JUST FOR TREE-HUGGERS - They’re great for people who want to save money too! These days, you can find them in just about any size and shape, even dimmable. They cost more, but more than pay for themselves. (According to Consumer Reports, each CFL saves $24-45 over its lifetime.) Please be aware that CLF bulbs contain mercury. For more on their safe handling and disposal, see http://www.epa.gov/cfl/.
KEEP THE HEAT IN YOUR HOT WATER - If you aren’t ready for a solar water heater, you can still make a huge difference just by setting your hot water heater to 120 and wrapping it in a water heater insulating blanket. Instructions for the homeowner can be found on the U.S. Department of Energy’s web site at www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13080.
SOY-A-NARA PETROLEUM BY-PRODUCT CANDLES! - Replace paraffin candles with soy candles; they don’t pollute the atmosphere (traditional wax candles are made with petroleum by-products), and they are slower to burn, so they last longer. Many stores carry soy candles (if your local candle store doesn’t, request them). For the more ambitious/crafty, there are do-it-yourself sites online that can walk you through the joys of making your own candles of soy.
CLEANER OCEANS/CLEANER BOATS - Using non-toxic cleaning agents to keep your Boston Whaler sparkling means cleaner water for the whales. Exterior surfaces (chrome, windows, decks, stainless steal, and plastic) can be cleaned with a solution of one part vinegar: two parts water. Interior wood surface can be polished with either almond or olive oil. Brass can be cleaned with a mixture of equal amounts vinegar, salt, and water. Lastly, fiberglass stains can be banished with a paste made of baking soda and water (rinse with lemon or lime juice).
A BRIEF HISTORY OF COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT - TIMELINE
1978 - Massachusetts is the first state on the eastern seaboard to receive federal approval for its coastal management plan.
1979 - CZM begins its regional program, providing liaisons to work directly with coastal communities and coordinate regional initiatives.
1980 - The Oil Spill Contingency Planning Program is inaugurated and administered by CZM—funding regional plan development, training, and oil spill containment equipment.
1981 - CZM receives a federal planning grant to lay the foundation for the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve.
1982 - CZM releases a report on PCB (polychlorinated biphenyl) pollution in the New Bedford area, which leads to Superfund designation and millions of dollars in cleanup funding.
1983 - The Massachusetts Legislature formally designates CZM as lead state agency for implementing the coastal program.
1984 - Massachusetts wins a lawsuit to halt oil and gas lease sales on Georges Bank.
1985 - The Buzzards Bay Project, administered by CZM, becomes one of the first four National Estuary Programs in the country.
1986 - CZM launches a Harbor Planning Program to coordinate technical and financial assistance to coastal communities.
1987 - CZM releases Passive Retreat of Massachusetts Coastal Uplands Due to Relative Sea-Level Rise and completes digital maps showing projected sea-level rise for three harbors.
1988 - CZM chairs the Boatyard Preservation Program Committee, which develops a strategy to protect the limited number of existing boatyards from dwindling further.
1989 - CZM completes the first historical shoreline change digital mapping project for the Massachusetts coastline, covering the years from 1850-1978.
1990 - The Massachusetts Bays Program, administered by CZM, becomes the second National Estuary Program in Massachusetts.
1991 - CZM develops and deploys the Rapid Response and Storm Damage Survey Team to help speed disaster aid after Hurricane Bob and the "Halloween" storm.
1992 - With CZM assistance, the coastal waters of Wareham are designated as the first boat sewage No Discharge Area on the East Coast.
1993 - Stellwagen Bank is designated as the first National Marine Sanctuary in New England.
1994 - CZM develops Guidelines for Barrier Beach Management in Massachusetts, the nation's first comprehensive reference on balancing competing uses on barrier beaches.
1995 - CZM produces the Aquaculture Strategic Plan, forming a framework for the growth of the aquaculture industry, and releases The Massachusetts Coast Guide: Access to Public Open Spaces along the Shoreline.
1996 - CZM launches its first website, providing easy access to information on coastal issues and CZM programs.
1997 - CZM is one of the first four states in the country to receive federal approval of its Coastal Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Plan.
1998 - CZM and MassAudubon develop the award-winning Green Neighborhoods initiative, bringing together environmentalists, developers, and other diverse interests to reshape suburban development to minimize environmental impacts.
1999 - Gloucester becomes the first of the “four ports” assisted by CZM to complete its municipal harbor plan to revitalize its waterfront.
2000 - CZM and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Sea Grant hold The Science and Management of Dock and Pier Construction Workshop to support local management efforts.
2001 - CZM kicks off the Clean Marine Initiative, providing cleaner boat engines to municipalities, free bilge socks and pumpout information to boaters, and technical assistance to marinas.
2002 - CZM leads the effort to complete the Massachusetts Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan, which sets management priorities and provides an implementation timeline.
2003 - Staffed by CZM, the Massachusetts Ocean Management Task Force is initiated and charged with developing recommendations for a comprehensive approach to managing the state’s ocean resources.
2004 - CZM launches the Coastal Smart Growth Program to support real-world growth management that protects coastal resources and public safety.
2005 - CZM launches Coast Guide Online, with 22 maps and brief descriptions of nearly 400 coastal public access sites from Salisbury to Hingham.
2006 - The Coastal Hazards Commission is launched to address erosion, flooding, sea-level rise, and other coastal hazards issues that threaten coastal development.
2007 - COASTSWEEP, the statewide beach cleanup sponsored by CZM, celebrates its 20th anniversary and the work of thousands of volunteers in cleaning up hundreds of miles of shoreline.
2008 - CZM introduces StormSmart Coasts, a program designed to support local efforts to protect people and property in coastal floodplains from erosion and storm damage.
Photos/Images: Beans - Kelly Adams; all other images created by Arden Miller